Typically when complications or deficiencies arise in people with diabetes it’s because of high blood sugar. High blood sugar can cause a cascade of problems, but what about those who are well controlled? Most issues seem to resolve once blood sugar is more controlled, however sometimes just having an autoimmune disease (even if well controlled) can make you more prone to complications or deficiencies for reasons not fully understood yet. Which is exactly why today I want to touch on nutritional deficiencies T1D’s usually see.
Here is a list of five of the most common nutritional deficiencies T1D’s are prone to:
High blood sugar (anything above 140mg/dL) actively depletes magnesium levels. This is because it takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize a SINGLE glucose molecule! (source). So if you have diabetes (of any kind) you are likely deficient in Magnesium.
Magnesium is essential for over 300 reactions in the human body; including how well your body responds to insulin. Being deficient in magnesium can lead to insulin resistance among many other things.
And while I’m a big advocate for getting nutrients from real whole foods whenever possible, magnesium is a nutrient that is incredibly hard to absorb from food sources (thanks to things like soil depletion from modern farming methods).
I personally choose to take magnesium topically vs orally. To get my magnesium spray recipe (and to learn a little more about the T1D & magnesium connection) READ MY POST HERE.
2. Vitamin D
The vitamin D and T1D connection is a tangled, but strong one. It seems to effect all time frames of having T1D including triggering an onset of T1D (source), the early years of having T1D, and later years of having T1D. And since this post is about deficiencies that T1D makes you more prone to I will not be touching on the T1D onset + vitamin D deficiency connection today.
So how does having T1D make you more prone to a vitamin D deficiency? In order for the body to use vitamin D it must first metabolize it. Vitamin D metabolism takes place in the liver and kidneys. These functions can be impaired in people with T1D (whether that be from poor control, pancreatic disease, etc).
Vitamin D isn’t the easiest to get from diet, which is why most people supplement or get some good ‘ol fashioned sun. If you’re looking to get vitamin D from the sun it’s important to know the sun’s azimuth (aka the suns angle) in your area because vitamin D rays can only reach you from an angle of 50+. If you live in New England, like me, that means you can only get vitamin D from about April – September from 10am-2pm. It can also not pass through windows, clothing, or sunscreen.
Want to know the sun’s Azimuth in your area? CLICK HERE to calculate the sun’s azimuth in your area.
- Select your nearest city in the drop down.
- Select the day and time
- Click calculate. Remember, you’re looking for the “Solar Azimuth” to be over 50.
I don’t use this on a daily basis. I really only use it in the beginning of April to see when the first day of Vitamin D beings and again in September to see when the last day of Vitamin D is.
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps store & process insulin. It also plays a big role in immune health. Because it’s water soluble it does not get stored in the body like fat soluble vitamins do. It’s excreted through urine, meaning the more you urinate, the more zinc that is flushed from your system. And we all know what happens when blood sugar is high… you pee…a lot. Zinc loss due to excessive urination in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes is well documented (source).
There are several different forms of zinc. Some more absorbable than others. Some more studied than others. I found this article on zinc forms incredibly helpful when choosing which form of zinc to take.
4. Vitamin B12
The reason for vitamin B12 deficiency in people with T1D isn’t well known. But it is clear that people with autoimmune disease(s), type 1 diabetes included, are more prone to deficiencies than the general population. Age, sex, duration of diabetes, and control don’t seem to have an influence on the level of deficiency (source). B12 deficiencies can be exacerbated in individuals (with type 1 or type 2 diabetes) on metformin because it hinders absorption rates (source).
B12 can be obtained through diet via red meats, clams, and organ meats (like liver and kidneys). If you’re not a fan of the taste of organ meat, capsules are a great way to go! I like to alternate between Ancestral Supplements Kidney and Beef Organ capsules. It is possible to supplement B12 with a vegan form, however the body’s conversion rate is extremely poor. This is because vegan sources of b12 are not actually b12. They are b12-analogs which block the absorption of true B12. Read more about why vegan sources aren’t the best choice for B12 in my post here.
5. Vitamin C
Both glucose and vitamin C use the same transporters to enter cells. Meaning, when you have high levels of glucose (either in the blood or intestines) Vitamin C cannot enter your cells (source), leading to deficiencies.
Vitamin C is most well known for immune health, but it’s also great at repairing damage in the body (including damage cause from high blood sugar) because it’s an antioxidant.
The best way to get vitamin C is from non-sweet food sources, for the reasons mentioned above. Foods like,
- bell pepper (169% DV in 1 cup)
- broccoli (90% DV in 1 cup)
- tomato (61% DV in 1 cup, cooked)
- snow pea (42% DV in 1 cup)
I Want to Know…
Do you regularly test for these deficiencies or supplement for them?